Kilmacud Crokes crowned AIB All-Ireland SFC club champions
AIB All-Ireland Club SFC Final
KILMACUD CROKES 1-11 WATTY GRAHAM’S GLEN 1-9
By John Harrington at Croke Park
A year after losing an All-Ireland Final, Kilmacud Crokes held their nerve to win one by edging out Derry and Ulster champions Glen in an absorbing battle.
Last year they lost to Kilcoo when they conceded an injury-time goal, and for a moment their supporters must have feared their hearts were going to be broken all over again when Glen also had a glorious goal chance in injury-time of this match.
A high ball into the square broke to Conor Glass and the midfielder hit a first-time shot on the ground that looked like it was destined for the net but Crokes goalkeeper Conor Ferris somehow tipped the ball out for a ’45 with a brilliant one-handed save.
Glenn worked the ’45 short and had one more chance of winning the match but Conleth McGuckian’s shot went wide of the left post.
In the final reckoning the result was the fairest one, with Crokes the slightly better team for much of the contest.
They had to show a lot of mental strength to win it too, because Glen started the game in very impressive fashion, scoring a brilliantly taken goal after just 34 seconds.
Danny Tallon raced onto pass from Ryan Dougan and turned his marker Michaeál Mullin inside out before bearing down on goal.
He still had a lot to do, but showed great strength to fend off the covering Cillian O’Shea before planting the ball to the roof of the net past Ferris.
Alex Doherty added a classy point a couple of minutes later before Craig Dias got Kilmacud Crokes off the mark.
The Dublin club seemed rattled by Glen’s strong start, as they kicked a couple of poor wides and dropped two more shots short.
Glen were more clinical at the other end of the pitch as Tallon converted a free and then Emmet Bradley curled over a lovely left-footed point.
But then came a big moment that settled Crokes as the hard-working Shane Cunningham was put through on goal by Dara Mullin and was hauled down by Dougan for a penalty.
Shane Walsh converted it confidently, and the gap was down to just two points.
Crokes really grabbled the game by the scruff of the neck thereafter as they bossed possession and probed patiently.
All of Glen’s players were camped in their own half for long stretches and when they did manage to win possession they were wasteful with it, with some miscued kick-passes robbing them of any momentum.
Points from Mullin and Cunningham drew Crokes level, and then in the 27 minute Dan O’Brien put them ahead for the first time with nicely curled left-footed shot.
That was the last scored of the half, as the Crokes took a 1-4 to 1-3 lead into the dressing-room at the break.
Crokes were on the front-foot again early in the second half when Andrew McGowan tore through the Glen defence and passed to Aidan Jones but the defender's shot was well saved by Glen ‘keeper Connlan Bradley. Walsh beautifully converted the resulting ’45 to push his team two clear.
Glen then landed their fist score for 21 minutes, a Danny Tallon free, and sourced some badly needed momentum from it. Alex Doherty claimed and converted a mark, and then Tallon and Jack Doherty landed two from play to push their team 1-7 to 1-5 ahead.
The match was starting to open up, and Crokes were soon level thanks to a Paul Mannion free and a great point from play by the impressive Shane Cunningham.
It was end to end stuff, and back came Glen with two more points, an Emmett Bradley free and one from play by Conleth McGuckian before Crokes replied in kind through Dara Mullin and Shane Walsh (free).
In between those two scores Glen fluffed a goal chance when Stevie O’Hara was put through by Jack Doherty, but his scuffed shot was smothered by Ferris.
Five minutes from the end of normal time Crokes got their noses in front when substitute Cian O’Connor landed a great score from distance.
Glen tried desperately to find and equaliser, but Crokes defended stoutly and eventually forced a big turn-over that lifted the siege.
From there Crokes raided downfield and landed what looked to be the insurance point when Walsh converted a close-range free.
It wasn’t quite safe just yet though, as Ferris produced that brilliant save in the third minute of injury-time from Glass to ensure Crokes lifted the Andy Merrigan Cup.
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Shane Walsh 1-3 (1’45 2f), Dara Mullin 0-2, Shane Cunningham 0-2, Dan O’Brien, Craig Dias, Cian O’Connor, Paul Mannion (f) all 0-1
Scorers for Watty Grahaham’s Glen: Danny Tallon 1-3 (2f), Emmet Bradley 0-2 (1f), Alex Doherty 0-2 (1 mark), Jack Doherty, Conleth McGuckian both 0-1.
KILMACUD CROKES: Conor Ferris; Micheál Mullin, Theo Clancy, Dan O’Brien; Andrew McGowan, Rory O’Carroll, Aidan Jones; Ben Shovlin, Craig Dias; Cillian O’Shea, Shane Cunningham, Shane Walsh; Hugh Kenny, Dara Mullin, Paul Mannion. Subs: Cian O’Connor for Hugh Kenny (46), Shane Horan for Aidan Jones (50), Luke Ward for Shane Cunningham (57), Conor Casey for Dara Mullin, Tom Fox for Paul Mannion both
WATTY GRAHAM’S GLEN: Connlan Bradley; Cathal Mulholland, Ryan Dougan, Connor Carville; Tiarnán Flannagan, Michael Warnock, Eunan Mulholland; Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley; Ethan Doherty, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery; Alex Doherty, Danny Tallon, Conleith McGuckian. Subs: Stevie O’Hara for Conor Convery (37), Paul Gunning for Alex Doherty (5)
Ref: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)